Feel chained to your inbox? Reduce those feelings of stress, overwhelming concern and spam with these simple ideas.
Can you remember the first email you sent? For me it was at university and it was a response to the organisation of a seminar. It felt strange, new and a little daunting. Admittedly I had only been texting for around two years with my first mobile phone but for someone who had grown up with the majority of conversations taking place face to face, or voice to voice the growth of text was bewildering.
It is hard to remember those first feelings of uncertainty as I got to grips with a new software. Email has become so ubiquitous that I now have five or six email accounts and spend a chunk of my working day reading, answering and occasionally ignoring messages.
I am not alone. A survey by the data governance software firm Varonis has claimed that, rather than freeing our time and enabling communication, instead we feel enslaved by our inbox. 43% said they feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of emails they are receiving. Over a fifth of respondents have between 1, 000 and 5,000 emails in our inbox at any one time. The majority of us get 100 emails a day but a quarter of us receive up to 500 emails a day. A journalist at a national newspaper once told me they can easily receive anywhere between 600 and 1,000 emails everyday.
Time consuming, exhausting and yet another thing we just need to manage. Some feel the need to set up filters and send email to different folders. Some file and clear their messages everyday. Others hoard everything. The majority of us probably fall somewhere in between, doing a quarterly clean up and promising to be organised but falling off the bandwagon a few days later and seeing the inbox mounting up.
The time we spend managing email is exhausting. so what’s the alternative? It can be tempting to click on the “Compose” button instead of just picking up the phone. The same journalist who bemoaned the number of emails they receive on a daily basis said the most important thing for him is the subject line. It has to be relevant and to give an indication of how urgent the email is. Be honest, not everything is urgent and requires an immediate response.
One of the frustrating elements of email etiquette is when you find yourself looped into a huge chain of messages. Think twice before CC’ing in everyone in the company, Not only can it frustrate people as you fill their inbox but also it can be undermining, especially if you make sure senior managers are aware of what, to them, may seem like a minor topic.
Tighten up spam filters. It is not just about reducing the number of emails you receive but an effective spam filter will make your inbox safer and more secure. Hosted exchange providers like Giacom check every email ensuring it does not have a virus or a phishing quality reducing the risk of your organisation’s digital defences being breached.
If email culture is a real issue in your place of work then it is worth pitching the idea of an email code of conduct. Sending emails late into the night so someone logs in at work the next morning, or checks their emails when they wake up in the morning, to be confronted by a long to do list is plain unnecessary. Emails can be timed to be sent during office hours, rather than disrupting someone’s morning or evening routine.
Email has changed how we communicate with each other and with the growth of smartphone is it ever present on our daily landscape. However we need to harness the power of email, rather than let it dominate our time.